It’s not been publicized, but it’s earned honest citizens around the country tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for blowing the whistle and protecting fellow Americans. It’s kept on the q.t., but the Department of Justice relies on it for the protection for our tax dollars. It’s the fear of every corrupt corporation. It’s called “qui tam” from a Latin phrase meaning “to sue for the king as well as for oneself,” and it’s time word got out.
As of the last fiscal year, the U.S. has recovered over $6 billion as a result of the False Claims Act lawsuits, of which over $960 million has been paid to qui tam whistleblowers. Under the False Claims Act, a corporation guilty of defrauding the government can be sued for three times the government’s damages plus $5,500 to $11,000 per instance of fraud. The qui tam whistleblower, who has firsthand knowledge of the corporate abuse and files with an attorney, is entitled to 15% to 30% of these awards.
The number of qui tam cases is increasing.
Too often those in the private sector see the government as one big cookie jar. Corporations and employees lose little sleep charging for services never performed or for equipment never installed because they believe government bookkeeping agencies are too big or slow to find the error. Some believe government won’t care or think they aren’t doing anyone (except that vague idea of the taxpayer) any direct harm. While computer manufacturers, military contractors, and oil companies have all been brought to trial by qui tam whistleblowers, the biggest culprit is the health care industry. And here harm from corporate fraud abounds.
Tennesseans suffer more than just financially when federal tax dollars are misused. Last year, because of a qui tam case involving shocking mistreatment and neglect of elderly veterans in two Tennessee veterans’ homes, these abuses, including one homicide, were made public. In another False Claims Act case, a Tennessee oncologist guilty of defrauding Medicare, TennCare and BlueCross and BlueShield was found to have been diluting chemotherapy medications given to her cancer patients and instructing her nurses to give only partial doses of medications to patients. She has sentenced to over fifteen years’ imprisonment for actions.
There are a number of provisions protecting qui tam whistleblowers from retaliation from their employer. The first step in any qui tam claim is to contact a qualified attorney, such as myself or my HHP associates, to begin the filing process.